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Usability Testing : Jargon Buster

Usability Testing is a technique to evaluate the effectiveness of a website design by testing it with real end users.

As designers or website owners we can often be too close to a project and too familiar with how a site functions to identify potential usability issues.

By observing real users performing common tasks we can quickly identify areas of friction or confusion within a design.

Usability Testing can also be combined with Emotional Response and Recall tests to build up a wider user experience picture.

At The Pixel Parlour Usability Testing has become an invaluable part of our website development process, from the initial research stage through to post-launch. Following the mantra of ‘test early, test often’, we use it to reveal issues with an existing site, evaluate early page wireframes or design prototypes and refine a site further after launch.

The aim isn’t necessarily to produce findings that are statistically robust, but rather to get more qualitative data about the why behind website usability issues.

Testing even with relatively small sample sizes can still proffer actionable information.

In fact breaking your pool of participants into smaller groups and testing in rounds can actually help get the most out of the process. It allows you to modify your testing approach between rounds and quickly iterate on a design based on early findings.

The proliferation of mobile web devices has undoubtedly introduced new Usability Testing challenges, not least by widening the range of ‘contexts’ in which people might be using a site. You can’t hope to cover all of these but some mobile usability testing, however limited, could provide the insights needed to help significantly improve the user experience of your website.

Nick Barron

Written by

Nick Barron

In his role as UX Director Nick ensures that everything we do reflects a clear understanding of our clients’ aims as well the expectations of their audiences.